Emmy Award-winning television producer Darren Star visited Viacom’s New York headquarters last week to discuss his career and personal experiences in the media industry. Employees packed the lobby-level event space to watch the event live.
The event was the second installment in our Conversations at Viacom speaker series, which pairs CEO Philippe Dauman with notable creators and personalities who inspire creativity through their stories.
Recognized as one of the most successful television producers to date, Star has created hit television series we all know and love such as Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, Sex and the City and of course, TV Land’s latest hit, Younger.
One big reveal: even with such a mountain of critically acclaimed successes, Star is no stranger to failure. “Rejection is never easy and it’s never happy, but you have to take chances. I used to have an amazing batting average with developing shows and then it went down after a few hit shows,” said Star. “Staying calm is something you learn over time just by doing it and not freaking out so much, but just dealing with the idea that you’ll find solutions as things go on. You have to learn by doing it.”
It isn’t surprising, then, that Younger centers around 40-year-old Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), a recently divorced mother who chooses to reinvent herself by pretending to be in her 20s in order to re-enter the workplace.
“I knew a lot of women who had to take that time off from work and found it very difficult to get back in the workplace. So those were my peers and I thought that was a story that has a lot of cultural currency and is about something people can relate to,” Star said.
Star credits his ability to create content that is relatable and lighthearted to his reliance on the experience of his peers searching for themselves in an ever-changing society to develop storylines.
“Age is a very resonant issue in our culture, especially for women, and I feel like a show that deals with age and ageism in a comedic way is something people aren’t always talking about,” Star said. “As everyone gets older, they will experiences it in one way or another…and [Liza] is very appealing because she isn’t a fantasy.”